How Computers Work

Ahmad Bilesanmi
FlareLabs Education
2 min readMay 10, 2018

Computers are everywhere. Computers range from our laptops, servers, phones, tablets and so on. They can as well be found in devices like blenders, refrigerators, wristwatches, etc. Every computer does 4 major things:

1. Input

2. Storage

3. Process

4. Output

These are what make computers computers.

So all computers must be able to carry out these tasks in order to be referred to as a computer.

Input

Input can be referred as any form of data that is passed to the computer for processing. This input can come in any form including text, numbers, images, sound and even electrical signals. Examples of input processes include: texting on our phones, fingerprint processing from fingerprint scanners, etc.

Processing

Processing can be referred to as manipulations on the input data to produce some result. This processing could be different things ranging from saving data to a database, search a shopping database for a particular designer shoe, or search for a contact on your phone, or changing an image from colored to black and white and so on.

Storage

This is how our computers are able to store data for us to be able use at a later period. We have short term storage and long term storage.

Output

This is how the computer presents information to us. In some cases output from one computer can be used as input for another computer. Output can come in various types including text, images, videos, sound, etc.

Binary & Data

Computers work at the core with 1s and 0s. Most people don’t work with this binary anymore. So the binary value is determined by the current that passes through a wire. A single wire with current can have a value of 0 or 1. This value can also be yes or no, true or false, on or off. The information contained in a single wire is called a bit. A bit is the smallest form of information. Two wires will have 2 bits and so on.

In decimal system, we have 10 numbers (0–9). In binary we have only 2 numbers that can be used to count up to any number (1 & 0). In the decimal system we have numbers in their positions. In a number 1965, we have the ones 1, 10s, 100s, 1000s positions. So 9 in the number is 900. In binary system, the positions are in 1s, 2s, 4s, 8s. So a number like 1010 is 10. Any number can be represented in 1s and 0s. The more wires you have the more numbers you can store. With 8 pwires, u can store numbers up to 255, that’s 8 1s, with 32 wires, you can store up to 4 billion.

However you can store texts, images and sound in 1s and 0s

Text in binary

Imagine all the letters being represented as a number which can then be represented as a binary. You can then represent a word in binary. So every word u see on a webpage or phone or watch follow this process.

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Ahmad Bilesanmi
FlareLabs Education

Software Engineer || Python || Javascript || DevOps || Data